Mental blocks can hit with no warning, and can get in the way of your personal life, professional work, athletic goals, and creative projects. They can stop you from perfecting activities you’ve done a thousand times before and from coming up with new, interesting ideas. A mental block can even cause problems in interacting with the people around you.
To fight a mental block, you need to change you expectations, habits, and perspective. Below are some tips for identifying and overcoming your mental block.
If you receive negative feedback, your reaction will likely go one of two ways. You’ll either allow the feedback to give way to incessant negative thoughts and give in on the project, or you’ll press on, either out of confidence or spite. Think of how you responded to negative feedback as a kid, and you’ll likely find that the pattern has continued into your adult life.
Negative thoughts can be a stumbling block to your progress. They can compile and build on each other, becoming a heavy weight that can drag down your confidence and creativity. If you notice self-depreciating thoughts becoming a regular habit, work on changing them. Some people find it helpful to purposely think positive thoughts about themselves whenever they notice themselves feeling low. Others find it more useful to remind themselves that negative thoughts are just that—thoughts and not reality.
Pressing on in your goals is a good way to overcome negative feedback. Just be sure that when you do, you don’t press yourself so hard that you lose your passion for the project.
When you put too much pressure on yourself, as we all do at some point, you get stuck in “have to” thinking. This can trigger your which automatically wants to get you out of a difficult or uncomfortable situation. When this happens, your mind will stop working as hard on the project, and you’ll have trouble making progress. Find ways to release the stress that is associated with the project. Move deadlines back, if possible, and remind yourself that finishing the project is likely more important than the stress of striving for utmost perfection.
Changing up your work space and talking the problem through with other people can change your mind’s patterns and knock some new ideas loose. If you’re stuck on a work project, take your laptop to a coffee shop. If you usually work on the project later in the evening, try working on it earlier in the day.
Talk to an impartial and uninvolved person. Call a family member, a friend, or even a psychic line. Even if they can’t offer specific ideas for the task, they may at least be able to help you think about the problem in a different way. A psychic may also be able to help clear up stress that is unrelated to the problem but still dragging you down.
You can also just sit down with yourself and have a good brainstorming session. Write down any idea, no matter how silly it sounds. A little laughter can be just what you need release bothersome stress.
Sometimes, you need to stop thinking about your project and focus on something else. Get up and go for a walk. Shake your hands out and listen to some great dance music to energize your body. If you’re trying to improve your basketball shot, your backswing, or your putt, get out your phone and watch a cat video. While you’ve got your phone out, set a timer so you can spend time on the new activity without worrying about how much time has passed. When the beeper goes off, get back to your practice.
Mental blocks develop around issues we’re uncomfortable with. Making mistakes and looking like you don’t know what you’re doing are often the best way to learn new things, but this makes you vulnerable. Be willing to risk being an amateur at something so you can build proficiency.
Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn't on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber